Winston-Salem, NC -- People give the gift of life everyday and that blood is then stored properly and safely. And you may have even asked yourself or someone else, what happens to that stored blood used during transfusions?
Well, some researchers at Wake Forest University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine looked into that issue.
Information released from the study states that depending on the amount and age of the stored blood used, there is evidence that transfusion can lead to complications including infection, organ failure and death. They also found that these complications are likely due to red blood cell breakdown during storage, implying that transfused blood may need to be stored in a different way.
Their discovery could lead to changes in the way blood is stored. They believe that donated blood may need to be stored in a different manner.
Doctors have noted recently that blood stored for a long time may be associated with complications such as increased infection risk, kidney, lung, or multi-organ failure and death, particularly among medically vulnerable patients, according to study researchers Dr. Mark Gladwin of the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Daniel Kim-Shapiro of Wake Forest.
According to Dr. Gladwyn, "When blood sits for a while, some of the cells break down and release their contents, which include molecules of hemoglobin and red blood cell microparticles."
Dr. Gladwyn further explains that these molecules accumulate in the bags the blood is stored in and are then transfused into the patient receiving the blood. This is called a storage lesion.
After they enter the bloodstream, the hemoglobin and microparticles bind to and destroy NO, a very important molecule that is used to ensure normal blood flow. This can then prevent tissues and organs from getting adequate oxygen, according to researchers.
They are working on other research projects to find approaches to correct the problem, and to assess the safety of blood, for transfusion that has been stored for longer than 14 days.
Currently, federal guidelines allow transfusion of blood that has been stored for up to 42 days.
Wake Forest University